SigMT Vol12 Iss 4

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BACK TO BUSINESS Text by Randy Tarum • Tarum Law Office Estate Planning: A Family Affair Protecting the Ones You Love Many people hear the words 'estate planning' and their first thought is how to avoid or delay the process. Some people struggle with facing their own mortality while others push it off for another day. Ironically, these same people are also adamant in not wanting to be a burden on their family when they pass away. Look, it's never fun to think about how your worldly possessions will be divvied up when you pass, but consider the alternative; family feuding, unnecessary taxes and probate. Without an estate plan, seling your affairs aer you go could have a long-lasting and costly impact on your loved ones. Significant or complex estates do require the assistance of legal, financial and tax professionals. However, even with smaller, less complex estates, it is oen helpful and important to consult with an aorney and tax professional to make sure you are accomplishing what you hope to achieve through your estate planning. A poorly draed will can create more problems than it solves. One issue that does not get enough aention, and probably causes more tears and resentment, is the distribution of family heirlooms and sentimental personal property. When we die, it typically falls upon the family to sort out what happens to assets accumulated over a lifetime. Without clear and precise wrien instructions reflecting wishes for the property, it will be le to the family or the court to sort it out. Montana law recognizes that a document can be created, separate from a will, that identifies how personal property is to be dispersed. To have legal effect, the document must be referred to in the will, must be signed, must adequately describe the assets and must identify the beneficiaries receiving the property. e list can be changed, by you, at any time prior to death. It is very helpful for family members that you identify property and provide details of why it is important to you. e history behind items is oen of the greatest value to loved ones. SiG MT 24

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